De-Jax is on the fantasy pedestal

The following fantasy football e-mail chain between Ryan Fowler and Joel Beall took place on November 10 and 11, 2011. The topics featured were not discussed in advance.

From: Ryan Fowler

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:32 PM

To: ‘Joel Beall’

Subject: The Pedestal Part III

On the pedestal: DeSean Jackson

What do you make of DeSean Jackson at this point in the season? This is a guy who racked up over 2200 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns (two rush) the last two seasons. Over the last three weeks, he’s averaging 31 receiving yards per game with no touchdowns.

Is it time for fantasy owners to part ways with D-Jax?

From: Joel Beall

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:23 PM

To: ‘Ryan Fowler’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

The good news for Jackson owners: he’s still getting looks. The versatile receiver has 58 targets on the season, just five behind team-leader Jeremy Maclin. The bad news: Maclin has 15 more receptions and 100-plus yards on Jackson despite the similar amount of opportunities.

Perhaps Jackson is letting the off-the-field nonsense affect his play (Jackson petitioned for a new contract in the offseason, a request that was denied). But here’s the truth: nothing is wrong with the California product. This is simply that type of production he’s displayed his entire career. In 14 games in 2010, Jackson had three or less receptions in eight outings; through eight contests in the current campaign, he has repeated this trend five times. His yards per catch are down (a 22.5 figure last season has dipped to a 17.3 figure), but last year’s numbers were inflated by two monstrous performances.

Jackson is still capable of submitting 150-yard displays of excellence; unfortunately for his proprietors, that means having to swallow some stink bombs as well.

I’m keeping him on the Pedestal.

From: Ryan Fowler

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 2:52 PM

To: ‘Joel Beall’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

Vincent Jackson owners are nodding excessively.

I think we can draw a lot of similarities between the two players’ fantasy value by analyzing their past. Unlike closers in baseball, fantasy owners do NOT have a short memory and cling to and obsess about the numbers Jackson and Jackson posted in 2009. V-Jax finished that season with six, 100+ yard performances and nine touchdowns, while D-Jax finished with five games of 100 receiving yards or more and nine touchdowns.

So, while the Eagles wide receiver is going through a little bit of a fantasy funk, V-Jax reminded owners in Week 9 that seven receptions, 141 receiving yards and three touchdowns are still possible. Patience is a virtue and, in most cases, fantasy owners don’t possess any. In this case, we urge you to try.

If you need more justification, know that six out D-Jax’s eight remaining games come against pass defenses that currently rank in the bottom half of the league. Now take off that Shaun Alexander jersey and live in the now.

Final verdict: D-Jax remains on the fantasy pedestal.

Who’s up next?

From: Joel Beall

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 3:23 PM

To: ‘Ryan Fowler’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

On the pedestal: Eric Decker

Thanks to his excursions into the end zone, Eric Decker currently stands as a top-15 receiver in most fantasy formats. However, with Tim Tebow under center, the Broncos have recently installed an option-spread offense, an endeavor that would seemingly hurt the value of Decker and the Denver WR corps. He has hauled in two touchdown grabs with Tebow at the helm, but fantasy owners are hesitant with the second-year wideout as Decker is owned in just 55 percent of FOXSports.com leagues.

So, will Decker continue to score, or is his first-half fantasy worth inflated?

From: Ryan Fowler

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 5:04 PM

To: ‘Joel Beall’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

Eric Decker? … Decker? … Decker? Oh yeah, I remember him! Good guy. He helped me out in Weeks 2 and 4 when Kyle Orton was chucking the rock around the field for the Broncos. After a two-game stretch where he posted 17 receiving yards on four receptions and no touchdowns we lost touch.

Even with Brandon Lloyd reassigned to St. Louis and Decker the top receiver on the depth chart by default, John Fox is a head coach who likes to run the ball. He showcased this knack in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Tebow provides Fox a mobile quarterback and Willis McGahee has proven that he still has a little gas left in the tank (even with one good hand). The running back has rushed for 100 or more yards in half of his starts this season.

I believe any garbage yardage/touchdowns/fantasy value Decker possesses will come on such an inconsistent basis (think Nate Washington) that I wouldn’t feel confident reserving my WR 2 and/or FLEX position on the second-year receiver.

Those two weeks were amazing though.

Decker gets knocked off the pedestal.

What about you?

From: Joel Beall

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 5:47 PM

To: ‘Ryan Fowler’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

I’m keeping the faith with Decker. True, Denver is a run-first (and second and third) team, and Decker’s fantasy importance has probably peaked. Yet the Broncos will very likely find themselves behind in many a ball game down the home stretch, and attacking with the ground game won’t cut it when you’re behind 17 points in the third quarter. If that’s the case, someone has to catch the ball for the Broncos, and the most likely candidate for that task is Decker. Demaryius Thomas is too much of an unproven commodity to trust, and Eddie Royal would be a decent option if it was 2008.

As an every-week No. 2 wideout, Decker won’t cut it, but he can certainly be worked into the flex and warrants a roster spot as a practical backup. Out of the eight games this season, Decker has made a fantasy impact in five contests (six if you count his punt return touchdown in Week 1). That’s enough evidence to keep him around awhile longer in my book.

Final verdict:  Decker remains on the pedestal … for now

From: Ryan Fowler

Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2011 6:15 PM

To: ‘Joel Beall’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

I dig the logic on Decker.

On the pedestal: Rashard Mendenhall

For our final fantasy pedestal candidate, we turn our attention to a running back close to your heart. One Rashard Jamal Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers was selected, on average, 10th overall in most FOXSports.com fantasy drafts. If not for the epic collapse of Chris Johnson and the brand spankin’ new 53-million dollar contract attached to him, Mendy would be enemy number one. Just how unproductive has he been this season? In standard scoring leagues, Jahvid Best – who hasn’t played since Week 6 – has scored more points than him along with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Darren Sproles.

His one-yard plunge against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday night was a welcomed sight and nobody deserved those six points more than those fantasy owners who have stuck it out.

But I wonder, is it a) a smart move to bench him b) a smart move to trade him c) smart to ride out this storm for eight more weeks?

From: Joel Beall

Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 12:45 PM

To: ‘Ryan Fowler’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

I’m going with a combination of A and C. In the past three games, Mendenhall has received exactly 13 carries in each contest, hardly enough opportunities to make a legitimate fantasy contribution. Every Mendenhall owner has heard the justifications for their back’s underwhelming performance: the Pittsburgh line is in shambles; Mendenhall’s overuse the past two seasons is starting to take its toll; hell, I even heard one commentator proclaim Mendenhall had “lost the edge.” Really? I’ve only heard that statement once in my life, and that was in the beginning of “Top Gun” after Cougar came unglued after a close encounter with a MIG.

The truth: Pittsburgh no longer employs a “ground-and-pound” philosophy, choosing the air as their preferred offensive attack. This change of strategy has left Mendenhall and the running game out in the cold.

For now, I’d bench Mendenhall (especially this week against the Bengals, who are holding opponents to an AFC-low 84.5 yards per game), but I believe his still warrants a roster spot in hopes that Pittsburgh has to revert to the ground once the weather turns cold. I wouldn’t try to trade him, as you’d only get 60 cents on the dollar.

From: Ryan Fowler

Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 1:15 PM

To: ‘Joel Beall’

Subject: RE: The Pedestal Part III

Agreed. You can’t move this first round bust 10 weeks into the season, but I offer owners a couple canaries in the coal mine. If you stash him on your bench for the next few weeks, Weeks 14 and 16 the Steelers face the Browns (30th against the rush) and the Rams (32nd against the rush). As you touched on, the weather could turned nasty in December and force a pass-first offense to remember the running game against two poor rush defenses during most fantasy leagues playoffs. He’s worth at least a flex play those two weeks and reasons why to keep him around for the remainder of the season.

Final verdict: Mendenhall remains on the pedestal.

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